There isn’t a single team in the NBA that wouldn’t love to add a player like Bradley Beal to their squad, including the Boston Celtics – an Eastern Conference contender that’s salivating over the thought of an NBA Finals appearance.
It would be their first in over a decade. However, the days of Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo feel like ages ago. It’s been over seven years since Brad Stevens took over as head coach.
Anything short of representing the Eastern Conference in the 2021 NBA Finals will feel like a disappointment. Teased by three trips to the Eastern Conference finals in four years, including being one win away from forcing a decisive Game 7 in one and being one win away from winning the conference in another, Stevens is itching to make the leap.
But is the 2021 Celtics roster talented enough? Is the foundation sturdy enough to withstand another deep playoff run? And, if not, does president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have enough to make a significant splash via a blockbuster trade?
Are The Celtics Talented Enough To Win The Eastern Conference?
Having this discussion less than one week removed from seeing his core of All-Stars in Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown reunited on the floor for the first time since facing the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals feels silly. But, when one of the greatest scorers the league has ever seen – James Harden – moves from playing out West to living roughly 215 miles from TD Garden, these sorts of questions will arise.
Ainge must have been asking himself these questions in the months leading up to the deal. And, if anyone is asking themselves why Harden to Boston didn’t happen or why talks never heat up between both sides; you can rest-assured those chats started and ended because of one player; Jaylen Brown.
And when you think about what could start and abruptly end speculative trade talks between the Celtics and Wizards, Brown’s name fits the bill, here, as well. Unfortunately, for Celtics fans, Marcus Smart – Boston’s most attractive trading piece outside of Tatum and Brown – isn’t going to get this one done.
Bradley Beal To Boston For Jaylen Brown?
If Washington decides to part ways with the league’s leading scorer, it’s going to require All-Star caliber talent in return. And if that’s certainly the case, right now, then the Celtics are better off seeing things through between the Tatum & Brown tandem and their All-Star point guard in Kemba instead of trading Brown, who outside of Tatum, is the only All-Star the Wizards would take because of Russell Westbrook and Jaylen’s promising growth pattern.
Furthermore, Ainge cannot utilize his Traded Player Exception (TPE) in a deal for Beal due to his $28.8 million salary, which is slightly above Ainge’s TPE ($28.5 million) and means the Celtics would have to match salaries in order to complete a deal. Also, Tatum’s new contract coupled with Brown’s bargain of a deal ($22.9 million in 2020-21); makes it harder to envision Ainge doing such a thing.
Boston shouldn’t be eager to replace an ascending All-Star with a veteran like Beal. With a tandem like Tatum and Brown’s along with one of the league’s elite scoring point guards, the Celtics are already in good shape to compete with the best.
In the end, however, health and the surrounding cast will ultimately decide if this team’s fate is destined for a championship or not.